General commentary on our war against terrorism

The events that occurred on September 11, 2001 highlighted two different problems that we face here in America. The first was an attack on defenseless civilians by those who were interested in advancing an agenda which is antithetical to our way of life. There is an extent to which this was at least partially aided and abetted by our government. I say that because it was the various different rules and regulations that our government had put in place for our safety which enabled jet aircraft to be hijacked by small groups of people armed with box cutters and other assorted improvised weapons. Currently there is an ongoing low level threat being presented by the use of powdered anthrax spores sent in letters to people, with the idea being that those who open the letters will contract the disease. Our government is bending over backwards to tell people that they are doing all they can to deal with the problem, while giving people in general no good information about what they can do that might help them deal with chemical and biological warfare agents. Again the government strategy seems to be to keep people in the dark, potentially deny them what they might need to protect themselves, and then to clamor for the people to give the government more power. In point of fact, most of these sorts of situations might not be anywhere near as bad as they are now if the government and the media had been doing a reasonable job of providing people with the information that they needed to make intelligent and informed decisions all along.

If you remember nothing else of what I have to say in this commentary, remember this; any trade of liberty and freedom on your part for increased security and protection from the government on their part is a sucker bet. You can't possibly surrender any more liberty and freedom to the government than the occupants of our nation's prisons already have. Yet they can be and are assaulted, raped and murdered both by other prisoners and sometimes the guards while being able to gain access to just about any drug that they decide that they really want. If all that can happen in a setting where the government theoretically holds all the cards, then how much more can happen in a setting where they don't? Especially given that the government arguably has a vested interest in keeping you feeling at least slightly scared and helpless. After all, if you didn't feel scared and helpless, would you still need the government to "protect" you? The best you can do is to provide for the protection of yourself and your family to the greatest extent that you can given the bounds of reason and common sense. To trust somebody else to do it for you is to set yourself and your family up to be victims. Imagine the aid that you and your family desperately need coming to you with all the speed and efficiency of the Post Office, the compassion of the IRS, the tactical knowledge and abilities of the ATF, coupled with up to date information provided by to you by people whose job is to spin things for a living. Personally I'd rather trust to the sorts of preparations that I can make myself, with the added support that can be gained from networks of family, friends and like minded people. They, unlike FEMA, aren't going to be concentrating on the continuity of government and the protection of various portions of the infrastructure as their first priority.

It can not be overemphasized enough, that regardless of who does what, people who are intent on hurting other people will find a way to do so. It is impossible to create a totally safe and risk free environment for people to live in. There will always be the chance that something, somewhere can go disastrously wrong. The various different suggestions that I am going to make are not guaranteed to keep you and your family safe from harm. They are designed to try to give you and your family the maximum freedom possible to deal with various situations in the way that you feel makes best sense for you. If everybody, or even a large enough number of people, were to follow these suggestions and put them into practice, the ability of a small handful of people to threaten thousands of others will be greatly reduced, and with that will come a decrease in the perceived need for the "protection" offered by the government. It will also result in an general increase in the level of security enjoyed by the populace as a whole, with no need for increased tax dollars going to the government.

Now that all that has been said it is time to focus on the things which can be done by people in the course of their daily lives that will help them to better deal with these situations. The first recommendation that I am going to make is that everybody who is willing and able should obtain a concealable firearm, training in its use, and the appropriate licenses needed to enable them to carry it legally. People should also get involved in pushing legislation that will make Vermont style weapons laws the standard throughout the country. Odds are that if you find yourself in the middle of some sort of terrorist attack, the authorities will not be able to get there in time to help you. They will likely arrive after the terrorist has pretty much done what it is that he wanted to do, and their response will largely consist of clean up and paperwork. Therefore, you have to have the means to respond to that sort of situation handy on or near your person, so that you can take what action you feel needs to be taken to neutralize the threat. One guy attempting to knife a bus driver isn't going to be that much of a threat if other passengers armed with firearms decide that they don't like what he's trying to do. One person or a small group of them attempting to run riot with assault rifles through a shopping mall aren't going to be able to do anywhere near as much damage as they might otherwise if several people with their own weapons can keep them at least partially pinned down. Somebody trying to drive a semi tractor trailer loaded with gasoline might not be able to take out his intended target if a passerby starts putting pistol shots through his windshield. People with the right weapons in the right places at the right times can make a difference. Even if they can't actually prevent something from occurring, they may be able to ensure that the event is nowhere near as devastating as it might be otherwise. But in order for that to happen, there has to be a large number of people who carry and practice with their weaponry on a routine basis. Otherwise you're just depending that nothing seriously bad ever happens while you might be in the area, and over the long haul that might not be a safe bet at all.

People I have chatted to have commented that carrying personal weaponry wouldn't have worked on an airplane, where such weaponry has been banned to begin with. My first reply to that is to point out that we have just suffered so many casualties as a direct result of that ban that even if there had been dozens of people somehow killed because of problems with passengers carrying weapons on aircraft that the net result would still be in favor of passengers continuing to carry weapons. What we saw demonstrated on September 11 was the total fallacy of gun control. Nobody on those planes had guns. The passengers didn't have guns, the crew didn't have guns, and the terrorists didn't have guns. We ended up with somewhere around 6,000 people dead. Furthermore, to the extent that the flight crews are still unarmed, nothing has changed much that would prevent a recurrence of the events of September 11. Except for one thing. The Air Force is now prepared to scramble fighter jets to shoot down any airliner that might be hijacked. If you think that having an F-16 put a Sidewinder missile through the engine of the aircraft that you're flying in is an acceptable alternative to having the pilot and co-pilot being able to shoot anybody who tries to enter the cockpit without their permission (which action would actually pose minimal danger to the aircraft and other passengers) then I suggest that you might be missing something in your analysis.

Furthermore, the aircraft pilots themselves are asking for just that kind of ability. On the website maintained by the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations they have a page listing their various news releases. On September 27 they provided a comprehensive list of suggestions for airline safety and security. The document is in PDF format, so I can not directly link to the specific portion of text that I want to. Nevertheless, if one goes to this link:

And then accesses their 9/27/01 release one will find the following listed on page 1 of their recommendations:

"Provide flightcrew members with the necessary and appropriate defensive weapons to effectively subdue unauthorized cockpit intruders or diffuse other emergency situations that would pose a serious threat to the control of the aircraft or the safety of the crew and passengers. Assign a task force to study and develop the training and procedures necessary to implement this effort."

Now, while I claim to be a relatively intelligent person, I do not claim to know more about the operation of passenger aircraft than the pilots do. In fact, I can't think of anybody out there who would be better qualified to offer recommendations in this regard than the pilots themselves. I believe the fact that a professional organization that functions as an umbrella group for all of the Airline Pilots Associations throughout the country has specifically requested that the flight crews be armed should speak for itself, and the fact that this recommendation appears on page 1 of a 4 page list of such recommendations is also indicative of how important and effective they feel that this would be. As I see it there aren't any rational alternatives to supporting the airline pilots to the hilt in this regard. Especially given that the likely alternative to having the flightcrew being able to neutralize most potential threats is to fasten your seatbelt while the Air Force shoots your plane down.

One of the other threats that we are now facing is a result of the use of biological weaponry by terrorists. Granted, the government seems to be bending over backwards to say that this sort of thing is not happening. While then going on to describe cases where people appear to have been infected with anthrax while handling mail that contained large numbers of anthrax spores. The targets of such attacks so far have been various media organizations. Well, if all that is not terrorism, then it seems to me that somebody is spinning the definition of terrorism. At any rate, the question that needs to be answered is what is the average person to do about this sort of thing? Other than not working in the mail room of a media corporation. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information available that goes into a wide variety of techniques for dealing with the threat posed by chemical and biological weapons. This information has been compiled by the government for use by its own forces. However, for reasons which only make sense if one assumes that the government desires a helpless population, nobody seems to be placing much emphasis on making sure that this information is made widely available to the populace at large. So, as part of my effort to counteract this, I have done some web surfing. I have been able to come up with a variety of different links that will enable people to read military field manuals on line, and to order this information from various companies on CD ROM. So, if you want to find out what you can do to better protect yourself and your family, turn off Oprah, pull the plug on the various soap operas, fire up your computer, and find out how the military is trained to deal with this sort of nonsense. Either that, or sit on your tail, do nothing, and wait while the government lets enough citizens get killed and injured that the rest of them can be stampeded into granting the government ever more police power.

A civilian site with links to some military field manuals on line. Unfortunately, some of the manuals that look like they might be especially useful in this context are not available through this site.

A site maintained by a former Army Chief of Staff that has links to military field manuals on line. I was able to get a couple of manuals through here that I was not able to get through the other site.

The link below is the result of a search run through the engine available on the site just mentioned above. It should enable people to access some of the relevant Army Field Manuals dealing with Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare to see what the Army has to say about defensive doctrines and procedures when dealing with these types of attacks.

This site may also be helpful in trying to read Army Field Manuals on line:

The following link is for a site which can be used to order copies of military field manuals

Links which can be used to order military field manuals on CD ROM, prepared by various civilian groups. I have not actually ordered anything through any of these and do not specifically recommend any particular one. I am just letting people know what is available.

One of the other potential terrorist threats that has been mentioned is the possible contamination of municipal water supplies. There are a variety of different things that the average person can do to make sure that their family is reasonably protected from this sort of nonsense. One of the methods that I am going to suggest is to obtain a water distillation apparatus, and make sure that the water one uses for drinking, cooking and brushing one's teeth has been distilled first. The link below is to a website maintained by a company which sells home distillation units. I have not ordered anything from them and do not have any first hand experience with their product. Nevertheless, this is an indication of the sorts of things which are available if you take the time to look for them. The time to look for such things, by the way, is before you need them. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

- Mike Johnson

|Back to Index|Back to CBG|

These  are the personal views of Mike Johnson. They are neither endorsed nor supported by Citizens For Better Government. They are presented for informational purposes only. 
Last Revision: October 14, 2001